Fantasy XVs can develop in unlikely circumstances: in this case a chance comment about Cato from the Pink Panther making an excellent open-side and a Sidekicks XV was born. It is time for the guys who play second fiddle to stand up and be taken notice of! And their opponents? The Henchmen XV to follow.
1. Barney Rubble – Fred Flintstone’s neighbour is used to the physical work of the Stone Age and thus should be very at home at loose-head prop.
2. Penfold – Dangermouse’s confidant makes a loyal, if not particularly intimidating hooker. Height may lend itself to a low position in the scrum.
3. Little John – Sherwood Forest resident and legendary big man, Little John anchors the scrum at tight-head. Love of big feasts and ale should make Little John the life and soul of after match parties.
4. Rodney Trotter – Long time in the shadow of Del Boy but given a chance to excel here. Good height and from the mean streets of Peckham but liable to making mistakes (‘you Plonker Rodney’ has been often heard on the touchline).
5. Anakin Skywalker – Obi-Wan Kenobi’s padawan has prodigious skill and technical ability. However, is known to have discipline problems and known to turn to the dark side (aka football) in times of distress.
6. Spock – Unemotional but highly intelligent and well suited to the blindside role where the dark recesses should provide ample opportunity to apply the Vulcan death grip. Requires heavy taping of the ears.
7. Cato – Maverick open-side flanker who relies very much on the element of surprise for most of his tackles. Wreaks havoc whenever he plays but at least has more common sense than his boss, Inspector Clouseau.
8. Panthro – Thudercat, strongman and technical genius. Powerful ball carrier and good team player.
9. Ernie Wise – The skills required by the straight man in a comedy partnership to set up the funny man relate directly to the service a good scrum-half should give to his fly-half. And none come better than Ernie Wise.
10. Brain the Dog – With excellent communication, exceptional disguise skills and a penchant for getting people out of dire situations (see any episode of Inspector Gadget) Brain makes a good choice for fly-half.
11. Robin – Holy overlaps! Small and quick on his feet but with a mighty right hook Robin fits he left winger berth nicely. For some reason I can see a resemblance with Luke Fitzgerald.
12. Gromit – Forming a canine 10-12 axis, Gromit shares many of the same attributes as Brain. May need to change his dietician as Wallace’s fondness of cheese and crackers has no place in the modern game.
13. St Peter – The ultimate right hand man. Fisherman originally but since moving into the role of doorman for Heaven has grown into a physical outside-centre.
14. Battle Cat – Despite schizophrenic tendencies Battle Cat in his more aggressive state is a pacey and powerful winger. Relies heavily on his personal trainer He-Man for confidence and tuition.
15. Watson – Though not as capable as his mentor, Sherlock, Watson provides a strong and intelligent presence at full-back. Good solid team man used to dealing with eccentric team-mates (Cato, Anakin Skywalker etc)